Towards the end of 2018 Hajj operations, the Chairman of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) engaged in interactive meetings with a select number of states. Present at the consultative meetings were officials of the pilgrims boards and other interested pilgrims. The states visited were Adamawa, Kaduna and Osun, the later chose to pay the visit to Ummul Judd, Makkah NAHCON office instead.
The meetings were straightforward: to offer NAHCON an avenue to interact one on one with those whom the Commission serves in order to exchange ideas on how to enhance Hajj operations and strengthen good working relations amongst NAHCON office, state officials, pilgrims and other stakeholders entirely. They offered a platform to fill communication gap between NAHCON, state executives and state staff as those in-between. The meetings also provided a platform to make amends with anyone who felt wrongly treated. In addition, they were designed as feelers to gauge how much pilgrims’ officials understand NAHCON policies, objectives behind them and how far they comply with them. Besides, it was a window to know those policies that need adjustments to make for easy compliance. Here are some significant take-away from the interactions.
While participants reeled out their comments, which were received with attentive ears, Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammad and other relevant office holders from NAHCON responded accordingly. A central issue that attracted inquiries wherever NAHCON team visited was the issue of Hajj savings scheme. Apparently, participants were as eager to learn about its modalities and takeoff time, as are the handlers in explaining the concept.
Thereafter, the Barrister seized the opportunity to remind pilgrims officials to remain steadfast and patiently serve their various pilgrims whom our Maker describes as His own guests. He described pilgrims’ officials as protocols between their Maker and pilgrims; therefore they should be grateful for the honor to serve their Creator’s guests. He enjoined them to see it as a duty to counsel/educate pilgrims on the merits of period spent in Makkah, so that they may appreciate the time they spend there and utilize it in seeking for blessings.
The NAHCON Chief further enjoined the officials to remain innovative, researching on ways to move Hajj forward for the ease of humanity in general. He similarly enjoined them to diversify their means of income through indulging in legitimate ventures such as farming, animal husbandry and others so that they will not be tempted to dip their hands into illegitimate finances. Furthermore, the CEO admonished them to embark on expanding their knowledge with courses on the aviation industry, hospitality and crowd control. The wisdom behind this is its manifold profit. First is the chance to put their knowledge to use while in active service. Secondly, at the time of retirement, they can combine their experience and certificate qualifications to float a travel agency of their own, or a consultancy.
Barrister Mukhtar made a case to the state chief executives to give their staff chances to grow through working and learning. This, he said can be done through reducing involvement of ad hoc staff in the planning and execution of Hajj operations and use the state board staff instead. He also reminded them to take documentation of their operations seriously because this is what will ensure continuity of the progress being made even after they leave office.
In the course of the interaction, NAHCON leadership demonstrated that its interest transcends Hajj and Umrah alone and extends to how these two can be used to foster a regional integration to the benefit of all. In line with this, the NAHCON helmsman proposed to the Osun state contingent the possibility of partnering with one of the northern states in expanding their income generation, diversifying their working experience as well as creating regional harmony.
Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammad, did not hesitate to explain why some of the states were selected for the visitation. Adamawa was one of those states chosen to host the NAHCON entourage because of the State Governor’s exceptional display of commitment to his state pilgrims’ welfare. It was disclosed that the Governor often personally inspected pilgrims’ facilities and meals, was supportive of Hajj operations and even contributed to the acquisition of an excellent lodge for the state pilgrims. Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the board was extolled for the way he exhibited uncommon commitment, transparency and genuine concern for general welfare of his pilgrims such that he kept directly in touch with them. It was revealed that he often knew their individual rooms even before leaving Nigeria for Saudi Arabia ever since he assumed the office.
Kano State board was recognized for being central to Hajj operations in Nigeria from time immemorial and even now, Kano proved that they are worth their status. It is a fact that Kano state was the first to move its pilgrims to Muna plus the fact that Kano state pilgrims were well schooled in performance of Hajj rites courtesy of the orientation program they received; a feat worthy of emulation by all states. Again, it was noted that Kano is the first state contemplating to establish an institute for Hajj studies, a move that is overdue in the country.
The observations from the meetings came as eye-openers that NAHCON will certainly utilize in its build up to future operations. They were as rich as they were diverse whereas some suggestions had already been implemented by NAHCON right from the Saudi Arabian Kingdom due to their time lines.
Usara is a staff of NAHCON